Thursday, February 2, 2012

How to Fill Cupcakes

Ever since I was squirreling away loose change found under couch cushions to buy Hostess snack cakes in the '70s, I've been entranced by filled cupcakes. I always wondered, how does that wonderful stuff get in there? After years of being convinced that cream fillings must be the work of fairies or some other elfin folk, I finally discovered a more likely method (for consumer-grade kitchens, anyway): Wilton tip #230 (the bismarck tip). Here it is, in all its statuesque, chisel-tipped grandeur, alongside an empty disposable 12" pastry bag and…one of my husband's pint glasses, which will make a lot of sense shortly. 
Start by snipping an inch or so off the bag and drop the tip in. You don't need to use a coupler, because it's highly unlikely you'll need to change tips on a bag full of filling. 
Fold the top of the bag over so about half the length of the bag is a cuff. Place the cuff over the pint glass with the tip resting somewhere near the bottom of the glass. This is about as close as it gets to spontaneously growing a third hand. 
Now, put your filling into the bag. You can pretty much use any viscous substance, within reason. In this case, I'm using the filling that comes with a box of Betty Crocker FUN da-middles cupcakes. You can use pudding, pre-made fillings available at cake decorating stores, Oreo Ultimate Icing or S'Mores Dessert Icing, or even peanut butter and jelly; try loading up two separate bags with two different tips. 
Squeeze all the air out of the bag; make sure the icing is getting all the way to the end of the tip…
…and then stick it into the cupcake at an angle. Go in a little less than an inch. Gently squeeze while you withdraw the bag. 
Here's the yummy yet unsightly exit wound, as it were. Don't worry; it'll be covered up in no time.
Come at the cupcake from the other angle and do the same thing. Now your chances for getting a mouthful of cream filling are DOUBLED! Are you starting to think of complementary flavor combinations?
Fill a pastry bag with any color and flavor for the top. These three cupcakes were all made with the same tip: #105 by Magic Tip or Ateco (one of those that is shaped a little like a tiny castle turret); definitely among my faves for being versatile and unusual, with its squared-off grooves.  
I'm curious to hear about your favorite cupcake fillings! 

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